I submitted this article for a class project a few years ago. It remains fundamental to the creative work I do today. Cheers! – Jared
The Creator Creates Creators
What is the very first thing we have a record of God doing? In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth. God first and foremost is in the business of making things. The creation account in Genesis describes the explosion of creative energy by which God is revealed as the rational designer of the cosmos. The culmination of his work was to create humankind “in our image.” If Genesis says anything about God’s purpose behind this it is that he intended humanity to reflect his own creativity. But even more explicitly, God instructs man to “subdue the earth.” We are challenged to solve the puzzles of existence around us. “It is God’s gift to humankind that we should desire to create, build, and understand both the physical and spiritual world” (Block 1979).
Work Is Sacred
Work was God’s loving idea from the beginning, in and through creation. After reporting the creation of male and female on the sixth day, the writer of Genesis quotes God as saying,”…your descendants will live over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals…. Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and guard it” (Gen. 1:28, 2:15).
The first glimpse we have of the human person in Scripture shows someone working as a farmer and manager of the rest of creation—joyously, purposefully tilling the ground and exercising respectful stewardship over all the earth.
The Bible portrays work as part of God’s very nature. “If God is the worker,” Elton Trueblood wrote in his book Your Other Vocation, “…then men and women, in order to fulfill their potentialities, must be workers too. They are sharing in creation when they develop a farm, paint a picture, build a home, or polish a floor” (1952).
We are exercising our dignity as creatures made in God’s likeness when we work. “Our work is the dual task of continuing God’s creative process and taking good care of what God has entrusted to us” (Williamson 2007). There is hardly a human occupation that does not in some way involve being a co-worker, a co-creator with God. We are sharing in God’s work. We are expressing God’s image in our work.
Business Is A Form Of Creative Art
Former US President Calvin Coolidge once bluntly stated, “The business of America is business”—a statement that appears to share little in common with a more spiritual view by Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Bond of Power. Pearce wrote, “We are created to develop the ability to create. The creature is designed to mature into the creator, the Son into the Father. The creation is the way by which God the One becomes many, and why Eternity is in love with the productions of time” (2003).
Although these statements appear antithetical to some people—certainly, their focus is different—are they really? Business aims to transform ideas into reality through innovation. We, as individuals, aim to transform the deepest longings of the human spirit into reality. The two missions can become one.
Regarding the source of creativity, St. Augustine stated in his Confessions, “All the loveliness which passes through men’s minds into their skillful hands comes from the supreme loveliness which is above our soul, which my soul sighs for day and night.” In Tolstoy’s What is Art? we read, “Art is a human activity whose purpose is the transmission of the highest and best feelings which men have attained.” Looking at these quotations, together with the quotes from Coolidge and Pearce, it becomes clear that business is a form of creative art. “The artistry of business is the creative right of all those who desire true prosperity, economically and spiritually, as well as personally and globally” (Miller 1999).
Creativity Extends Beyond Product Development
In 1992, Sony’s founder, Akio Morita, presented a now famous lecture on creativity at the Royal Society in London. Morita argued that creativity in business is a combination of already existing elements. It’s easy to deem Sony an innovative company solely based on the products they have developed over the years, but Morita explained it goes beyond that. “Just having innovative technology is not enough to claim true innovation. True innovation is made up of three key elements which are the “three creativities”: creativity in technology, creativity in product planning and creativity in marketing” (Morita 1992).
Borrowing an example from Sony’s history, Morita made reference to the case of the Walkman. He submitted that many have called the Walkman an innovative marvel, but where was the technology before its development? All the necessary components to make it were already available on the shelves. “Frankly, it did not contain any breakthrough technology. Its success was built on product planning and marketing” (Morita 1992). Technology has created a myriad of opportunities for businesses to creatively build upon prior innovations. Opportunity is there just waiting; those who will capitalize on it will be those who see it. He who has eyes to see, let him see.
“Creativity is worship insofar as it is, at its essence, a response…In the call to be creative, a call that goes out to all God’s children, we sense the call to listen to him and, in childlike naiveté, to imitate our father by creating works that will magnify his praise” (Grudin 1990). Christians are called to an even higher standard of creativity. Francis Shaffer, a famous Christian theologian and philosopher, wrote, “The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars” (1973).
Perhaps Paul summarized the call for Christians to excellence in business the best in his letter to the people in Colossae stating, “And whatever you do, ….do it all in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God…. whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:17, 23). We are called to be creative in all we do. Given the technology at our disposal we have no reason not to be.
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- Grudin, Robert. The Grace of Great Things. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1990.
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- Pearce, Joseph Chilton. Spiritual Initiation and the Breakthrough of Consciousness: the Bond of Power. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press, 2003.
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- Trueblood, Elton. Your Other Vocation. Chicago, IL: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1952.
- Williamson, Dave. “Why Work Is Holy.” The High Calling. http://www.thehighcalling.org/culture/why-work-holy (accessed August 17, 2011).